What are the Motorcycle Laws in Texas?
By harmonsonlaw on October 14th, 2020 in
Motorcycle riding has peaked in popularity in the U.S. in recent years, and as rider rates climb, motorcycle laws will adjust to compensate.
According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, the total number of U.S. motorcycle registrations reached $8.4 million in 2014, almost doubling since 2000.
Despite their popularity, it is far more dangerous to ride on a motorcycle than it is to travel by other means of transportation like a car or truck.
Below, I’ve listed some of the things you need to know when it comes to motorcycle accidents and the motorcycle claims process. Because motorcycle riders are more exposed than car or truck drivers, a motorcycle accident can cause catastrophic injury or death.
For example, here are motorcycle accident injury and fatality statistics in Texas recorded in 2017:
- 501 motorcycle drivers and passengers were killed
- 2,101 motorcycle drivers and passengers sustained catastrophic incapacitating injuries
- 3,430 motorcycle drivers and passengers sustained non-incapacitating injuries
All motorcyclists and their passengers are required, subject to the exception described below, to wear helmets that comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218.
Such helmets will be equipped with a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved sticker. And have the following requirements:
- One-inch thick inner liner
- Sturdy chin strap
- Weight of at least three pounds
The only exemption for these helmet laws is for motorcycle riders who are:
- 21 years old, and
- Have completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course; OR
- Have health insurance that has coverage for injuries caused by a motorcycle accident
While helmet use is recommended, wearing one does not guarantee that you will not be injured or killed in a motorcycle accident.
Of the approximately 500 persons killed in motorcycle accidents in Texas in 2017, only slightly more than half of the motorcyclists killed were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. Protective gear like helmets can help, but motorcyclists are simply at greater risk than passengers in cars and trucks.
Because of this, our motorcycle accident docket is generally populated with clients who have been permanently and catastrophically injured. There really is no such thing as a minor fender-bender when it comes to an accident between a motorcycle and another vehicle. Yes, a person who does not wear a helmet can still recover from the at-fault driver.
However, a recent Supreme Court decision overturned the longstanding law that excluded seat-belt usage from a jury’s consideration in an injury case. There is no doubt that helmet usage would certainly be admissible in evidence as well.
Under the laws of comparative negligence, helmet usage could either reduce or completely bar recovery of damages. In Texas, a plaintiff who is found more than 50% at-fault is barred from recovering any sum of money in an injury case. If the plaintiff is found between 1% and 50% at-fault, his or her jury award is reduced by the person’s percentage of fault. Unfortunately, there are many reasons that motorcycle accidents occur.
According to the TX Dot Share the Road campaign:
“The small size of motorcycles compared to other vehicles on the road means they can appear to be farther away than they are, and it’s easy to misjudge their speed. The combination of congested roadways distracted driving, and the difficulty of seeing motorcycles in traffic has led to far too many preventable fatalities each year.”
These are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents that are handled by our firm:
- Left turn accidents: The at-fault driver fails to see the motorcycle while turning left and causes an accident. Left turn cases comprise about 40% of fatal motorcycle accidents.
- Rear-end collisions: The at-fault driver fails to recognize the motorcycle and/or is distracted and rear-ends the motorcyclist.
- Side-swipe collisions: The at-fault driver attempts to change lanes and negligently knocks the motorcyclist off of the road.
Given the high likelihood of catastrophic injuries faced by motorcyclists, it is crucial that motorcyclists and the motoring public exercise due caution.
Here are some tips to keep yourself and others safe:
- Motorcyclists and passengers should always wear a helmet.
- Motorcyclists should not speed, as speed is a factor in roughly 1/3 of motorcycle fatalities.
- Motorcyclists should obey other traffic safety regulations, including driving one motorcycle per lane.
- Both motorcyclists and vehicles should leave a buffer between the motorcycle and the other vehicle.
- A person should never ride a motorcycle or drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
- Lane splitting (where two or more riders ride side by side) is illegal in Texas: don’t do it.
If you or someone you love is in a motorcycle accident, you may be terrified and unsure of what to do next. We know the motorcycle laws in Texas and we’re here to help. Contact the Harmonson Law Firm as soon as possible to get us started on your case.